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Maintain the Value of Your RV: The Importance of Regular Washing

This post was updated on March 27th, 2024

In partnership with Awesome Products

Tips For Washing Your RV On The Road

Washing your RV on the road and maintaining the aesthetic appeal and functionality of your RV doesn’t have to be daunting. With some knowledge and practical tips, you can easily preserve the value of your investment and have it looking good while traveling.

The importance of regular cleaning

Your RV is not just a vehicle; it’s a significant investment that offers an unparalleled experience. To prolong its life and maintain its value, regular cleaning is essential. This task becomes particularly crucial before winter storage, where a thorough clean can prevent rust and corrosion.

Regularly washing your RV on the road also removes debris, grime, bird droppings, and pollutants, thereby preserving the finish and appearance of your vehicle. It also alerts you to potential problems, such as loose trip, broken marker lights, deteriorated caulking and more. 

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The pros and cons of commercial truck washes

When pressed for time, a commercial truck wash might seem like a viable option. However, these facilities often provide just an average cleaning service, unable to compete with the attention to detail that hand washing provides. Moreover, the varying techniques these washes employ can cause damage to your RV, particularly to delicate areas like seals, windows, and slide-outs.

Some commercial truck washes like Blue Beacon do offer RV-specific washing services. While no substitute for hand washing your RV yourself, if washing your RV on the road is important, you should consider at least investigating those options. At the very least, it keeps you from rolling into that luxury motorcoach resort covered in dirt and road grime. Be sure to investigate these thoroughly, however, to make sure your RV can be cleaned safely.

The power of hand washing

Hand washing offers the most comprehensive cleaning and can protect your RV from potential damage. Pay special attention to the front of your RV, which tends to gather the most dirt and debris. High-quality, American-made cleaning products are recommended as they not only clean better but also preserve the finish of your RV, contributing to its longevity and trade-in value.

As stated already, hand washing gives you an up-close experience with your coach. You’ll be better able to see and feel any abnormalities on the surface of your RV and its components. If you are a full-time RVer, washing your RV on the road becomes a critical part of your periodic inspection routine.

Beware of damaging cleaning products

Avoid abrasive materials and harsh chemicals such as ammonia-based window cleaners, nylon bug removers, and dish soap. They can cause significant damage to the paint, graphics, clear coat, and other surfaces of your RV. Instead, opt for products specifically designed for vehicle maintenance like quality microfiber towels, Bugs Off Pads, and a reputable American-made car wash soap.

A man washes his rv on the road using a soft brush.

How to wash your RV while on the road


First, park your vehicle in a shady area and allow the surface to cool. If you’re in a campground that permits vehicle washing, gather your RV-friendly cleaning supplies. Remember to refrain from using dish soap, kitchen sponges, ammonia-based glass cleaners, or household cleaners.

The cleaning process

When washing your RV on the road, start by rinsing your vehicle with water several times, waiting about 60 seconds between each rinse. Once the vehicle is sufficiently wet, start washing from the top down, paying special attention to the windshield.

After washing the windshield, move to the painted surface underneath, gently washing the area with a lambswool or microfiber mitt or a Bugs Off Pad. An excellent product for hand washing your RV is 303 RV Wash & Seal.

Drying your RV

Once you’ve washed your vehicle, drying it is an equally crucial step. If water is left to dry naturally on the surface, it can leave spots and trap dust particles. Microfiber towels or squeegees offer the best results for this process.

Post-cleaning maintenance

After cleaning and drying your vehicle, you may opt for additional polish or waxing to further protect the paint. Be cautious when polishing as excessive use can remove too much clear coat. Waxing offers a valuable extra layer of protection against UV rays, oxidation, and environmental pollutants.

Wheel care

Your RV’s wheels are subject to many harsh conditions. Therefore, experts advise using a wheel cleaner designed for your specific wheel type to effectively remove brake dust, dirt, and grime.

The Brake Dust Eraser is a recommended product that cleans wheels using only water, offering a safe and effective solution.

Extra protection tips

  1. Washing procedures:  When washing your RV on the road, or at home, always try to wash your RV early in the day before the sun begins to heat up your RV. Be sure to wash and rinse your RV in small sections at a time to mitigate the soap drying before you rinse.
  2. Drying: It’s not enough to just wash your RV. Drying with high-quality microfiber towels is recommended. If it’s very warm and your RV is drying quickly, you can clean up water spots with step #3.
  3. Waxing or polishing: After cleaning, you might decide to wax or polish your vehicle for extra protection and shine. Rubbing in a spray-on such as Protect All or a ceramic spray is a great way to protect your RV’s finish and get rid of unsightly water spots.
  4. Headlight maintenance: You can clean up cloudy plastic headlight covers with various kits that are available for trucks and automobiles. Treatment levels vary depending on how cloudy your headlights are.
  5. Wheel care: In most cases, good old soap and water are sufficient, as long as you can get into those cracks and crevices.
  6. Protection against the elements: Park in shaded areas or using a cover if possible. For long stays, put on wheel covers to protect your tires.

Can you wash your RV at a campground?

Not every park will let you use their facility to wash your RV at your campsite. Be sure to check the rules and when in doubt, ask someone at the camp office. If this is the case, and you have a serious need to wash your RV on the road, using a spray detailer to get the bulk of dirt and grime off your RV might be the way to go.

At the very least, you should be allowed to clear your windshield, where here again, the Bugs Off Pads shine.

Get tips from other RVers

Washing your RV on the road isn’t always possible and isn’t always easy. With a little research and keeping the right tools on hand, your RV can always look great, whether you are backing into your favorite state park or cruising into a luxury RV resort.

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